Ground Water Emergency Order Update

Date: May 6, 2015
Notice from DNR Office of Conservation, Commissioner James Welsh

Groundwater levels in the Keithville and South Shreveport-Ellerbe Rd. Areas of Interest in south Caddo Parish (under a Temporary Ground Water Emergency Order since Aug. 19, 2011) continue to show signs of improvement over the first third of the year after above average rainfall during the late winter/early spring.

Since declaration of an emergency for these Areas due to exceptional drought conditions resulting in higher than normal withdrawal of groundwater without sufficient offsetting aquifer recharge, the Office of Conservation has continued to monitor hydrologic data in the region provided to our agency courtesy of the LSU Shreveport Red River Watershed Management Institute and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The most recent data evaluated by the Office of Conservation as part of its mandate to manage groundwater resource sustainability in these Areas shows the general trend towards improvement and overall sustainable conditions as noted in previous updates.

In particular, the Louisiana Office of State Climatology rainfall data for the area south of Shreveport indicates a rainfall total that is above average for the period spanning January through April, 2015. For these four months, the cumulative measured rainfall is almost eight inches above the historical average. That, in essence, is equivalent to more than an extra month-and-a half’s worth of rainfall in the first third of the year.

The U. S. Drought Monitor Report for Louisiana dated April 28, 2015 reported conditions in Caddo Parish to be in the "normal" range, groundwater level measurements appear to reflect both the expected seasonal variation as well as the current rainfall trends.

As many of the wells in the Areas of Interest are shallow (less than 150 feet), they are particularly responsive to recharge from heavy rainfall, as the above graphs illustrate with relatively high measured groundwater levels. It is important to note, though, that during extended periods of hot, dry weather when use in increased, these wells are also susceptible to dramatic drawdowns. Deeper wells demonstrate fewer ups-and-downs as they tend to take longer to recharge and longer to impact by overuse.
Such fluctuations are normal for aquifer systems such as the Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace in south Caddo Parish where the volumetric groundwater use is dominated by public supply and domestic purposes. The usual seasonal variation of rising water levels during the cooler, wetter months of late fall through winter and early spring, when overall water use is on the decline, is generally followed by falling water levels during the late spring, summer, and early fall when warmer temperatures and more daylight hours lead to increased water consumption. 

Emergency Order Amended

Following a previous evaluation, the Office of Conservation amended the restrictions of the emergency order in effect for the south Caddo Parish Areas of Interest on June 30, 2014, to allow for the resumption of normal groundwater use within certain parameters. The amended order can be viewed here and an accompanying news release here.

Keep in mind that although some groundwater usage restrictions have been relaxed, the Emergency Order does remain in effect, and enforceable, including two important provisions:

  • All persons in the Areas of Interest shall continue to implement judicious use of ground water withdrawn from Carrizo-Wilcox and Upland Terrace aquifer system water wells by practicing sound water conservation measures. 
  • Further, no person shall install a new water well in the Keithville or Ellerbe Road Areas of Interest to produce water from the Carrizo-Wilcox or Upland Terrace aquifers for any purpose without advance written approval of the agency except for replacement wells as defined in Order No. ENV 2011-GW014.

Violations of the above restrictions are enforceable by law and may include the imposition of civil penalties.